So, you’re packing up and prepping for your first trip to Las Vegas, huh? Although it’s been decades since I’ve done the same, I can still remember that feeling like it was yesterday.
Paying a visit to Las Vegas is a time-honored tradition among all walks of life. But when you’ve never been here before, it can often provide a rude awakening for first-time visitors.
The hustle and bustle of the Strip is overwhelming for many, as is the 110-degree summertime heat. Expenses can add up in a hurry, what with casinos charging “surge prices” at the gift shop, resort fees, and daily parking privileges at $24 a pop.
And then there’s the gambling floor. A place where dreams are crushed with regularity. Thinking about this led me to consider a few more mistakes that first-time visitors to Las Vegas make far from the table games and machines.
Without further ado, I present five more mistakes that plague inexperienced tourists taking in Las Vegas for the first time.
1 – Neglecting to Account for the Brutal Summertime Temperatures
It might be a dry heat out in the Mojave Desert, but after spending a few minutes baking in 110+ degree temperatures, you won’t be dry for very long.
When you’re out walking along Las Vegas Boulevard, the concrete sidewalks and asphalt streets combine to turn the Strip into a furnace.
As a result, millions of visitors soaking in Sin City for the first time find themselves literally soaking in sweat from head to toe. And while the extreme heat is typically just an inconvenience for most, many tourists taking a stroll down in the summertime suffer a far more serious fate.
As he told the local FOX-5 news outlet earlier this year, Las Vegas Fire and Rescue spokesman Tim Szymanski warns first-time visitors and regulars alike to remain vigilant when it comes to heat exhaustion and/or heat stroke:
“When you go past the point where it’s really bad, you’ll go into heat stroke and that is a true medical emergency. We’re going to have to rush you to the hospital with lights and sirens. There’s been a collapse. Your body temperature could be 106 degrees. You’re literally burning up and you need treatment at an emergency facility. You don’t want to get into that. That could cause permanent injury.”
If you notice yourself feeling out of sorts, including faintness, pale or clammy skin, nausea, or muscle cramps, get inside an air-conditioned casino to cool off. These symptoms are the first warning signs of heat exhaustion, a condition which can quickly turn into the far more dangerous heat stroke.
To combat this ever-present threat, always be sure to bring a thermos or two filled with cold water along when you walk anywhere outdoors. Take regular breaks to head inside the AC oasis of the nearest Las Vegas casino. And don’t confuse beer or liquor with the liquid lifeblood known as H20.
If you’re fair skinned, or come from a cold-weather climate, I recommend carrying an umbrella with you to shield yourself from the sun. Trust me, you won’t look weird in the slightest. People stroll the Strip wearing nothing but diapers or a Spider-Man costume and don’t attract any attention at all.
As always, don’t forget to lather on sunscreen to any exposed skin if you don’t want that intense sunshine to scorch you to a lobster’s hue.
2 – Forgetting to Pack Extra Clothing and Outfits to Swap out for Sweaty Clothes
Along those same lines, you’d be surprised at how many Las Vegas newbies find themselves low on clean clothes as their trip nears an end.
Between walking every day, the aforementioned 110+ degree temperatures, and the occasional jostle from neighbors in a crowded walkway, you can bet your bottom dollar that the morning’s outfit won’t make it to nighttime intact. Whether its sweat or spills, you’ll likely want to head upstairs to the room to freshen up with a cold shower and a fresh set of clothes for the evening.
Of course, that means packing two sets of pants, shirts, underwear, and socks for each day you’ll be in town. But unfortunately, many visitors to Las Vegas don’t factor this into their preparation. That means they’re out of clean clothes with a day or two still left on the itinerary, a quandary which presents several problems of its own.
You can try to locate a laundromat nearby, but let’s face facts—you came here to sink quarters into the slots, not a washing machine. The better casino resorts offer in-house laundry services, but most patrons balk at the itemized pricing ($12 for a shirt, $5 for a pair of socks, etc.) used to gouge desperate guests.
3 – Trying to Walk Seemingly Short Distances Instead of Getting a Ride
One of the best ways to beat the heat and keep your clothes clean and dry is to avoid walking the Strip altogether.
But a vital part of the Las Vegas Boulevard experience is hoofing it from casino to casino, all while exploring those little oddities and adventures hidden in between.
Here’s the thing though… The Strip is a lot longer than it seems at first glance. We’ve all seen those picturesque postcards that seem to fit the entirety of the Strip into a single frame. Images like that can trick many newcomers into thinking they can walk up and down Las Vegas Boulevard without any issues.
In reality, the distance between Mandalay Bay at the southern end and the STRAT tower (formerly the Stratosphere) at the northern end measures 6.4 miles. Under normal conditions, a healthy adult might be fully capable of walking that distance with ease, but Las Vegas is far from normal in every way.
First, there’s the purposefully constructed impediments that ensure walkers have to venture inside various casino resorts along the way. Elevated walkways, a lack of crosswalks at surface levels, bridges spanning Las Vegas Boulevard from one side to the next—you name it, and it’ll be there blocking your way.
As will the throngs of tourists numbering in the tens of thousands, each of whom is trying to do the same thing you are. Throw in those scorching summer temperatures, and walking is much more difficult than meets the eye.
For those reasons, you’ll be well-served by simply hitching a ride from Point A to Point B. From there, you can still walk around as it was designed, you’ll just avoid the lengthy spells of walking that can quickly grow tiresome.
4 – Hiring a Traditional Cab Instead of Uber or Lyft Ridesharing
When you decide to hop in a car to cut down on walking time, be sure to avoid the traditional yellow cabs and local taxi companies like the plague.
Las Vegas cabbies are notorious for “long hauling,” or taking inexperienced patrons on meandering journeys that cause the meter to climb in a hurry. Visitors often describe cabbies hopping on the highway to take people from McCarran International Airport to their destination on the Strip, despite the fact that Tropicana Avenue offers a direct straight-shot route westbound.
Instead of dithering with an unscrupulous cabbie, Las Vegas visitors in the know simply use rideshare services like Uber or Lyft. These services have stricter rules and regulations restricting drivers, so you won’t have to worry about getting ripped off.
You can also utilize the local infrastructure, including the city bus or the Las Vegas Monorail. The latter runs regularly from the Westgate casino southbound all the way to MGM Grand, making it the perfect way to get around the Strip on the cheap.
5 – Forgetting to Visit Downtown Las Vegas and the Fremont Street Experience
Speaking of public transportation in Las Vegas, a dedicated bus route known locally as “The Deuce” takes people straight from the Strip to the Downtown district.
Also known as “Old Las Vegas,” the Downtown district on Fremont Street is home to a cluster of casinos that predate the Strip by several decades. You’ll even find the Golden Gate, which is only the longest continuously operated casino in America after opening its doors way back in 1906. Other venerable casinos located Downtown include the Golden Nugget, Binion’s, the California, and The D.
The area was revitalized in the mid-1990s with the completion of the Fremont Street Experience, an incredible video screen canopy that envelops the entire drag. Fremont Street is loved by locals and tourists alike for offering a taste of what Las Vegas used to be. Sidewalk buskers entertain the crowds, the casinos offer best-in-class odds and service, and the prices simply can’t be beat.
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but that doesn’t have to mean mistakes like those mentioned here. In a town as eclectic and diverse as Sin City, it can be easy to get lost in the mix, which is exactly what happens to so many first-timers. Thankfully, you’re now armed with a wealth of knowledge on how to get the best bang for your buck when exploring one of the world’s most unique and interesting locales.